A Clear View on Culture: How Warby Parker Innovates on Employee Experience
When Co-CEOs Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal set out to create Warby Parker, they not only built the first and one of the most successful made-on-the-internet companies but also an incredible brand and organizations to work for. The pair didn’t just stumble upon success, their painstaking attention to detail in crafting an organizational culture that fuels innovation and stifles competition is truly unparalleled.
Growing to over 1,400 employees in eight years is quite the feat, and Warby Parker has been able to scale at a rapid pace while maintaining and improving upon their culture. Going from selling glasses by mail to global retail giant is not without its hefty share of challenges, including culture. But Warby Parker has been able to beat the growth culture slump by intentionally investing in a wide array of people practices that make for one awesome place to work at. Check out some of the very targeted things Warby Parker does to innovate in employee experience.
An immersive onboarding experience
Warby Parker recognizes the importance of a great onboarding experience in the employee life cycle. The company’s practices encourage a welcoming and supportive peer network for new starts. New employees are also introduced at all-hands meetings, and share fun facts about themselves.This may seem simple, but it really helps break down barriers and make people embrace vulnerability in order to create deeper connections. Being the new person in any setting can be quite daunting and scary, but Warby Parker seeks to minimize the awkwardness and bring in the family-ness for any new employee that walks in the door.
In training, Warby Parker involves more than just the HR team. Senior leadership participates in welcoming new starts in their learning, signaling that the company really values their addition. The founders and executive team communicate the vision and mission of the company, which brings new employees so much closer to the essence of their role in the larger organization.
Continuous learning opportunities
Learning is a huge component of employee retention. The more employees have access to multiple skill sets and areas of expertise, the more likely they are to continue to apply that within the organization (and not feel confined to just one area).
Warby Parker recognizes this, and creates opportunities for employees to continuously engage in learning. “Learn, engage, repeat” is one of its core values, and Warby Parker offers training and classes on a variety of different topics. There’s also an open library where employees are encouraged to read at will!
WarbyCon is a convention in which employees come together for a day for seminars on a range of topics. The company’s employee feedback showed that people wanted more opportunities to develop their public speaking skills, so a presentation-filled conference was just the remedy for that need. Not only did employees get a chance to hone in on their preferred skills, but this attention to employee feedback goes a long way in demonstrating Warby Parker’s care for its people.
Warby Parker has not outgrown the weekly all-hands meeting, a cadence thought only possible in a small startup. The company has fully embraced this model and doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon, citing the fact that it’s helped them become more connected and on top of competitive pressures.
Each employee at Warby submits a weekly “Innovation Idea” that can be anything from new marketing ideas to celebrating the company’s 7th anniversary with a scratch-off game (which actually happened, by the way). Getting employees involved in the innovation process of the company, and having those voices heard, is a sure-fire way of boosting employee energy.
Pulse happiness surveys
Every week, employees at Warby fill out a happiness scale ranging from 0-10 in order to give managers insights into what’s going on and make a conversation happen so that improvements can be made. This also gives insight into how team sentiment is trending, and if there are any immediate actions that can be taken to manage difficult situations.
Warby Parker has truly mastered the art of making company culture exceptional during times of rapid growth. From day one, new employees are made to feel welcome and invested in the mission - and really live it out. The company is also an expert in crafting communal experiences that not only build relationships but keep everyone up to date on what’s going on in the organization. Warby Parker’s investment in employee experience is a strategic one, in that it creates for a more highly engaged workforce that lives out the mission of the innovative eyewear powerhouse.
Make your culture intentional and proactive like Warby Parker’s. Request a demo of Five to Nine and get a clear view of what your employees want so you can make it happen for them.